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Families of missing LTTE cadres meet President in Jaffna Paranagama alleges OMP set up at the expense of useful investigation
Published Date: 13/06/2017 (Tuesday)

by Shamindra Ferdinando

A delegation representing those who had fought for the LTTE has requested President Maithripala Sirisena to help trace missing persons. This request was made during a meeting at Northern Province Governor Reginald Cooray’s Office in Jaffna on Monday (June 12).

The previous government brought the war to a successful conclusion in May 2009. Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa released over 11,000 out of nearly 12,000 LTTE cadres from military custody before the change of government in January 2015.

The delegation had represented eight northern and eastern districts, sources said. The meeting took place after President Maithripala Sirisena reviewed ongoing development projects and other contentious issues, at the Jaffna Divisional Secretariat.

President Maithripala Sirisena assured the delegates that he would look into their grievances. The government delegation included Prisons Reforms, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Minister D.M. Swaminathan, Health Minister Dr Rajitha Senaratne, Northern Province Health Minister Sathyalingam, IGP Pujith Jayasundera and Agriculture Minister Duminda Dissanayake.

Sources said that the delegation had renewed its call for the release of political prisoners held in what they called secret detention camps.

Both Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakse, PC, had denied the existence of secret detention camps. The total number in custody for terrorism charges and convicts is below 300, according to government officials.

Meanwhile, former member of Lessons Learnt and reconciliation Commission (LLRC) and retired High Court judge Maxwell Paranagama, who headed the Presidential Commission on missing persons yesterday told The Island that investigations undertaken by a special team headed by the retired High Court Judge into missing persons cases were terminated due to the yahapalana government decision to set up Office of Missing Persons (OMP) in accordance with Geneva Resolution co-sponsored by Sri Lanka in Oct 2015.

Paranamaga pointed out that in spite of the passage of the OMP Bill in parliament, absolutely nothing had happened since his commission’s investigations were brought to a sudden halt. Responding to a query, Paranagama said that some of those categorised as missing here were living abroad. "Unfortunately, foreign governments have declined to facilitate our investigations by making available lists of those Sri Lankans living there as refugees or given citizenship," Paranagama said, adding that four of those reported missing had been jailed in the Maldives. "We were able to speak to them over the phone."

Paranagama said that his commission had received 16,000 complaints regarding wartime disappearances and was inquiring into them when the present government terminated the proceedings of the commission. The former HC judge alleged that some foreign funded NGOs resented investigations undertaken by the commission.

Source: The Island

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